Puratos creates a support fund for innovative start-ups
The Belgian manufacturer of bakery and pastry ingredients creates Sparkalis, a support structure for innovative companies in food technologies.
The Puratos group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of ingredients for bakeries, pastry shops and chocolate shops. This century-old family company based in Grand-Bigard, on the edge of the Brussels region, relies in particular on innovation to improve its offer and thus attract new customers.
To give yourself a maximum of assets, Puratos has just set up an autonomous structure dedicated to supporting innovative start-ups. Sparkalis (a name that combines the English words “spark”, for spark, and “chrysalis”) is both an investment fund and an incubator.
“There is a proliferation of start-ups that develop innovative ideas with great potential. You can accelerate an idea if you give it the means to develop on its own. Sparkalis must provide the necessary oxygen and space to allow it to germinate “, explains Sophie Blum, Marketing Director of Puratos.
The idea is to offer flexible support to boost the growth of innovative companies in the field of food tech. Start-ups often have difficulty finding support during the start-up or pre-start-up phase. Sparkalis must give them the spark they need to bring an innovative project to fruition.
The support provided by Sparkalis will focus on plant products, fermentation, digitization (including artificial intelligence) and the traceability of raw materials. Led by Filip Arnaut, Director of R&D at Puratos, this new subsidiary will be able to draw on the network of around a hundred experts available to the group all over the world. It is up to them to evaluate the projects and guide the most promising projects.
“Unlike a traditional fund, we offer start-ups the possibility of testing prototypes directly on the market.”
The Puratos initiative has of course a very specific objective: to broaden one’s horizons by giving oneself easier access to the most promising innovative ideas and by making them mature. Before putting them on display, as it did in 2018 by creating a joint venture with Bakeronline, a Ghent-based start-up which offers artisan bakers a personalized website.
“We provide start-ups with a century of R&D expertise. And unlike a traditional fund, we also offer them the possibility of testing prototypes directly on the market if external validation is required,” explains Sophie. Blum.
Present in 71 countries, Puratos employs 9,370 people (including 1,400 in Belgium). In 2019, it achieved a turnover of just over 2 billion euros.